Alone. That’s what Devin was. That’s what he felt. Jack had been his only friend for five years, the only one who totally got him, who didn’t get fed up of him. But now as Devin stood on the sidewalk of a dirt track leading away from the place in which Jack had resided he felt like he had no one. His thoughts told him Jack would be back, that when his cut started to get deeper again, Jack would come home. And that’s the faith that Devin lived with for the passing week at school. Even though kids would take no notice of him and barge past as if he were not there, he still imagined Jack giving them a mouthful as he glanced over and grinned his goofy grin that spread from ear to ear, past his dark hazel eyes, all the way up to his pastel brown hair line. He may live in another world, but Jack still lived on in Devin’s head too.
All the afternoons for that first week, Devin would play jungle king in the forest, imagining Jack at his side, imagining hearing his voice speak, but knowing it was just his own contorted to Jack’s accent.
A few weeks later, his mum had caught him out in their yard, talking to himself as he created jacks image in his head and the words he spoke. A concerned look riddled her face as she called him to come inside.
“Back in a bit, explorer” Devin laughed “hello mum”
“Devin sit down” obeying, Devin had a confused expression spread across his once happy face. “You’re father and I have been speaking” Alan put his hand on Sandra’s shoulder, as they briefly gazed into each other’s eyes sorrowfully. “We think it’s time you knew that Jack won’t be coming back from Australia”
“Oh mum I know that, he’ll visit soon though, just you wait and see”
“Devin, Jack won’t be able to do that”
“Yes he will, you’re just saying that”
“Your mother is right, Devin” Alan spoke up “Jack is gone, but you’ll make new friends and so will he, its okay”
The rage in Devin was building up like a fire and he couldn’t see clearly through a crimson cloud that hung over his vision.
“You’re lying!” he huffed as tears welled up in the corners of his eyes “Jack will come back, I know he will, he promised and Jack never breaks his promise!”
“Devin, he has left, the sooner you realise that the better!”
“No, you’re liars, both of you, you’re lying, liar liar liar!” he screamed
“Devin, please, I don’t think Jack knew what he was saying, you can’t really believe he said that” Sandra chipped in
“He did! He’ll come back for me!”
“Devin, you hear what you want to hear” Alan began to raise his voice
“NO! I hear the truth, he’s coming back, just wait, wait and see, you’ll regret what you’ve all said, both of you, because Jack will prove you wrong and he’ll be back, he said he’d never leave me, he promised!” He yelled, before running upstairs and throwing himself on to his bed, crying uncontrollably, not because he was upset, but because he was angry, so angry and he couldn’t do anything about it. He couldn’t control it. The temptation to hurt coursed through his skull and his young mind was pervaded with thoughts that shouldn’t plague an eight year old boy. Thoughts that made him sick, thoughts that made him want to run, run off the face of the earth and never look back. Salty tears stained his pillow and a puddle appeared upon the duvet, he prayed for Jack to make this puddle feel like a field of daisies, but Jack didn’t even know, Jack was a whole eternity away, and Jack would never find out. But he’d be back, Devin was sure of it...he hadn’t gone...he wouldn’t.
As a black night came over and cloaked the house in a blanket of shimmering stars, Devin lay awake on his side, thinking about whether Jack would ever visit, whether he’d ever come home. Something drew his attention to the cut in his hand, it was so small now, only the once deepest bit remained as a darker patch of skin, no more than a fading scar, something that would rapidly decrease, while the yearning for his best friend only ever grew larger. Droplets gathered in his eyes again and he did his best to try and rub them away, boys shouldn’t cry he had thought. But they remained. It was almost as if they were mocking him in the state he was in, making fun of who he was and what he wanted.
“Shut up” he whispered “shut up” he uttered, louder this time “stop it, please” he whimpered “Jack will be back, wait and see, he hasn’t left you, I promise because he promised” he was so sure “he’ll be back, he’ll be back, he’ll be back!” screaming into his pillow he recited it, more to himself than anyone else “he’ll be back!” rocking back and forth, he cried out in his yelling, but no one came, no one cared, he really was alone.
The following afternoon, his nana was coming over for dinner and Devin had briefly forgotten about Jack having left as he felt the urge to make everything perfect for her. Laying out the table as straight as he could, he placed the cutlery delicately on the tabletop and placed a vase of daffodils in the middle as he knew his nana loved them.
“I’m just gonna call Jack and tell him...” Devin began as he started to scale the stairs excitedly. And then his face dropped. Jack was gone.
“When will he stop?” he heard his dad say “it’s been almost a month now since this bloody Jack has gone, he was a bad influence anyway, if only the boy could see it”
“But he can’t see it Alan, he only see’s and remembers things how he wants to, not the real world way, he doesn’t understand” Devin’s eyes brimmed once again with the familiar itchy teardrops as his parents spoke about him behind his back, as if he couldn’t hear, as if he was stupid.
“You’re absolutely right, Sandra, that boy is broken and he needs to be fixed”
Just as his mum was about to reply, Devin sprinted back down the stairs and out the front door as he slammed it behind him, the rage only cascaded into him even quicker. It felt good to bang the door shut; it felt good to hurt it. As he sprinted, only one place was on his mind, there was only one thing he could do. He charged like an electric bolt of lightning to the forest in which they had spent the majority of their time, only momentarily slowing down as he passed their den. He hurtled through the trees and fields until he arrived at a barn with a wide open entrance. Scurrying in, he slowed up as his eyes scanned the twisted mountain of metals that protruded in a heap containing bits of broken down farm vehicles and machinery to bits of shed and roof. Without a moment’s hesitation, he began to ascend the summit of steel, and only stopped when he reached the peak. Wiping a tear from his blotchy bloodshot eyes, he curled up and buried his head in his knees.
“Why Jack?” he sniffed “why couldn’t you prove them wrong?” he lifted his head and stared out at the metal and old dangerous bits of machine that surrounded him. His eye caught a sharp shard of metal that lay in the wreck of has-beens. Plucking it up from the masses, he held it high above his head. “Will this help Jack?” he called “is that what you wanted?” he turned over his hand that had the faded scar “is this what it needs?” he yelled as he carved a slit in his flesh where the original cut had been made. He winced ever so slightly afterwards, but his anger overruled any pain he may have felt. The warm blood trickled down his arm as he held that up for the room to see “you happy now, buddy?” he cried “ARE YOU HAPPY?” he screamed, trying to erase the specks of watery anger that surged from his eyes. He sobbed and moaned as choleric noises spurted out his mouth in vexation.
“I’m sorry” he whispered, still sobbing “I’M SORRY”
“Devin!” his nana was in the entranceway to the barn, tears pooling in the corners of her crinkled eyes “get down from there, please” she wept
“Nana, am I...am I bad?” he sniffed
“What? Of course not, of course not darling”
“Am I broken?”
“Why would you be broken dear?”
“Because I need fixing” he turned his head to her “I’m wrong nana, I’m not right, in the brain, in the head. I’m broken and I need to be fixed”
“Devin, we all feel a little broken sometimes, but that doesn’t mean we need fixing, we don’t have to mess around with who we are, we just need to not be afraid of being it, then it makes us happy”
“I don’t know who I am nana, I don’t know what I am, you’re better off without me, you’re not broken. I’m junk, I’m trash, you’re new, you’re okay, and you work”
“Sweetheart? I need you, I need you because even though people leave us behind, they don’t have to forget, you don’t have to forget, you can dwell on Jack for as long as you like, he can live in here for as long as you like” she gestured to her heart “but right now, I need you, I need you to get down from there and come home”
“I can’t come home nana”
“You can come home; you just need to believe you can”
“At home I’m broken”
His nana had gasped, having put two and two together.
“Not at nana’s home, not with me” she reached out her hand; Devin looked back at her, and at her palm.
Devin gasped as the memory let him go, he tilted his head down and his jet black hair covered his pale eyes. The child was no longer there. It had moved along with its family, just like Jack had.